C-Murder, The Truest $%#@! Ever Said (Koch)

This is, of course, the CD that’s been grabbing all the headlines, the one that convicted murderer (and, oh yeah, rapper) C-Murder made while in lockdown, dropping rhymes on his lawyer’s tape recorder and having them fashioned into what will surely be the biggest-selling album of his career. As the press release notes, it’s “album the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center didn’t want you to hear!” Or the album they don’t want you to pay Corey Miller for, anyway.

If you somehow thought Miller, little brother of similarly troubled rap mogul Master P, would spend time apologizing or backing off his persona on The Truest $#!@ I Ever Said, you don’t understand the modern hip-hop game. C spends about a third of his time here preparing a defense (“Stressed” and “Won’t Let Me Out,” which features rapper Akon retooling his own hit “Locked Up” for Corey’s purposes) a third of the time wondering what’s happening on the outside (“Holla @ Me,” which features the late Soulja Slim, and “Did U Hold It Down”), and a final third re-establishing his rep in a series of tracks any future prosecution would be happy to quote transcripts of (“Y’all Heard Of Me” and “Started Small Time”).

The irony is that C’s possibly clandestine methods have resulted in the best CD of his career. It’s hard to know how much input he could have had on the production, but it’s thicker, cleaner, slicker, and darker than most 504 rap; as for Miller himself, circumstances have forced him to rhyme very, very quietly, and that gives the whole project the feel of a hushed confidence gained on visiting day. Which it essentially was. No one should need to be told that murder is wrong, and I don’t know how guilty Corey actually is any more than you do. Whatever the facts, however, you won’t hear a more real CD in hip-hop this year; there are times when you can almost hear Miller’s voice bouncing off the concrete. If it’s legitimacy you crave most, well, the title says it all. Let’s see 50 Cent top that. Wait. Let’s not.